The 6 letter “B” word…

It’s so funny. In my short few years of coaching and teaching people personal finance it’s amazing the patterns and issues you start noticing (quickly) over and over. I can give you the numbers, show you the statistics, tell you the countless stories I’ve witnessed already, and share with you my own testimony… but I still get the responses and excuses as if I don’t know anything.

Our life is just really crazy right now… we’ll get to it when things slow down.
He’s starting a new job so we want to wait until that happens because it’s going to change. 
I don’t make much, so it doesn’t really make sense to do a budget. 

I get it. Trust me, I totally get it. Look back at my testimony or come grab me and lets have coffee for a few hours. It’s frustrating, hard, discouraging and devastating to go through controlyourmoney.pngsome of the things life throws at you or that you bring on yourself. But at some point you have to realize that you can’t throw out excuses for your lack of discipline or self-control. God blatantly has biblical principles and rules for handling money and if you don’t follow them you can’t get yourself off the hook by saying, “Oh, well, I don’t make much,” or “I’m not good at keeping a budget.” It’s not funny, it’s not cute… it’s simply disobedience.

The more we write it off as not that important the more we allow money to control us. You have to fight for this and get this stuff in order so that we can move on and focus on our callings. Think of all the stress you wouldn’t have if you didn’t have to worry about your bills or debt payments. Think of all of the amazing things you could do if you could spend that money on your dreams, on helping others, on working towards your future? I think of the many times I’ve finally started getting back to exercising and sleeping better only to realize how much better I felt! Gees, how could I forget how good it felt to keep it up? And man, how crummy it really feels to be so tired and sluggish all of the time. It’s the same with finances. You do the work ahead and it smooths so many of the issues out.

This life is too short to fool around dear-heart. Let’s move up in maturity, wisdom, and grace. God will lead you in all these things, we just need to be willing. shhh-carousel.jpgSo that 6 letter word that’s so awful? Budget. It’s not so scary, and it’s not too silly for anyone. Everyone needs to be intentional about what they do with their money.

Father God, I pray you would stir hearts towards the best you have for them. You have so many incredible dreams waiting for us and I pray that you would grow the faith, trust, steadfastness and all of the fruits of the Spirit in us. According to your will and word I pray a strong foundation to be built in our minds and hearts. Spirit lead us and speak to us. Let us steward all that’s been given to us to be a tool for the kingdom and a blessing to us that flows out to others. Let us be a light that reflects your glory to the world. Amen!

This is my Life.

When you think of adulting unfortunately you often think of all of the responsibilities that weigh you down from being able to do the things we’d rather be doing. I have to get up and go to work in the morning. I have to get that paper done by Tuesday. I have to do my laundry. I have to pay rent. We really look forward to ‘Friday’ and those times we get to let lose and enjoy those days off or going on that vacation.

What if your life was all about everything you just loved doing? What if adulting was more about getting to where you get to do things just because you can now, not because you have to anymore? Like yeah, I’m going to go visit my cousin for a week and help her with her new baby just because I can. Or, yeah I’m going to go host that financial workshop out of state next year just because I can. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Well, it’s all true. All legit things that I get to do now just because I can. bestisyettocome.jpg

And you know what, there’s still legitimate adulting that needs to happen in that other sense. The laundry still has to get done, the house still needs to get cleaned, and the bills yes, still need to get paid. Sometimes you take the job you don’t like, so that you can get the job you really want. Sometimes you have to sow and invest so that you can do the other cool things. It’s so different now and it feels way better. The responsibility is definitely more on me now to have self discipline and be a woman of my word because I’m self-employed. If I say I’m going to do something, I better do it. If I’m going to be a mom and a wife, well I better live my vows and honor these guys. I may not have a boss expecting me to show up at 8am and get that task list done by 5, but I definitely have people that count on me every day both personally and professionally.

This is my life. I’m going to be doing a lot more things just because I can. Just because it would be an incredible investment. Just because that person just needs a little bit of someone’s time to encourage them. Just because it’s who I am.

And that feels like true adulting. 

My Steady Compass.

My hubby and I have an incredible relationship. I am so beyond grateful for him and it wasn’t always that way. God has done tremendous things in us over these last 11 & 1/2 years and who I am today is a direct result of my being married to him. He has such a strength and steadiness in him and there have been many days where I’ve wondered (in my insecurities), how I even compliment him evenly. It’s like he does so much of the behind-the-scenes stuff that people don’t always see or understand how incredible his impact truly is.

This past Friday night our church had a Ladies Dinner and the surprise speaker ended up being 5 husbands that shared about how much they love and cherish their wives and the impact that they’ve had on them. These men were moved by great emotions as they spoke about the dedication, loyalty and love of their wives… I don’t know a lady in there that didn’t tear up listening to some of the testimonies.

My husband was the 5th man. Those of you that know me know that I am a Words of Affirmation gal. When I saw him walk out I just grinned and got ready to enjoy the ride! He tremendously dislikes public speaking and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my hubby break into tears or get choked up. I knew he was going to have a hard time and honestly I don’t know if I was even that surprised that he was up there. We’re just at this point that we thoroughly enjoy each other and showing it.

I was, however, very much interested in what he had to say. I leaned in and rested my head in my hands and got ready to really listen. It’s intriguing that I’ve spent time over the last coolnickfew weeks contemplating what my husband thinks of me. I’ve grown a lot over the past year and made great strides to accomplish some dreams and overcome darkness. So what does this man currently have to say about me to this room of 200 people? And there he was taking the mic.

In Mr. Chandler fashion he had an organized list to speak on. He talked about three things; love, encouragement, and strength. Pretty simple things that I would say about a lot of other people. Isn’t that funny? We think about ourselves and when we list our qualities we often write them off as nothing that extraordinary. But my husband is a pretty incredible man. He’s very wise, intentional, caring and thoughtful. When he says something he means it. When he does something he’s committed to it. So I pay attention when he speaks up and I care about what he thinks.

He affirmed things I knew about myself but instead of them seeming so normal he spoke about them as if they were great rare qualities that have shaped his heart and life. Sitting there being honored in front of so many friends I felt humbled to be loved by him. Gees, that’s my husband! Knowing all of my own faults, and all of the times we’ve messed this marriage thing up, God has continued to fill our home and guide us. We have been so blessed as we have learned to give up all the different parts of our hearts and lives and allow God to restore us and shape us. The friction of marriage creates an amazing dynamic where two individuals learn to experience and see God’s heart through serving each other and sacrificing for one other. It’s not a “give and take.” It’s a give and receive blessings as a natural byproduct of abiding by God’s word and will toward each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Thank you babe for speaking life over me and believing in me. You did a lot of that last year too and kept a steady compass as I learned to trust God with my grief. You’ve kept the perspective clear and vision the same even as I’ve switched from feeling accomplished to feeling as though I’m failing week to week. You’ve encouraged and lead me as I’ve found the balance between the responsibilities at home that we have while making sure our kids are loved, trained, and poured into. God, thank you for how you’ve displayed your love and youngusword in action through our marriage. I see your word and what you speak over us and see that play out so often in my life through my relationship with my husband. I am forever grateful.

I’ll share our testimony another time. We took ourselves through the ringer for quite a few years while we learned to let go of the garbage and allow God to truly have authority in our hearts and home. A lot of tears and fights in those years. A lot of fear that we were going to fail and fall apart. That wasn’t God’s will for us and it’s not for you either. I’ve listed some things below that really equipped us and taught us how to have a truly abundant and amazing marriage. We prayed a lot too. Those deep, honest, surrendering prayers, asking God to restore and fix us instead of trying to do it on our own.

Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage with Mark Gungor
The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

I’ll leave you with the great verses on love that are often recited at weddings. God is contending for you and your marriage. He is capable of anything. So keep releasing your spouse into the hands of God and pray incredible victory over your marriage. Don’t relent. God isn’t.

1 Corinthians 13 – The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


3 Ways to Finding Suzy…

I have the utmost admiration for you folks (superhumans) out there that work full-time, raise your family, and have clean clothes and a clean house. It’s absolutely incredible. We have a lot of responsibilities and only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. In college I couldn’t sit down and focus on my homework until I had my room completely picked up and put away. Now 10 years later I’ve got three beautiful little people that I’m training and managing. They don’t seem too bothered by the piles of laundry, food on the floor, and shoes and coats thrown all down the landing.

All the years that I worked full-time outside of the home I either caught up on things all on the weekend, or I’d try to maintain things throughout the week. Like if I did nothing else on Tuesday but clean the bathrooms after the kids were in bed, great! It took me less than a half an hour and it’d save me from doing it on Saturday. Sometimes I’d pay the sitter a little extra on date night and give her a list of a few things she could clean after putting the kids to bed. It was so worth it and gave them a chance to earn extra.

Now it’s very different. I’ve been a full-time mama at home for a year now. It’s been wonderful and I’ve woken up many days just thinking of how insanely blessed I am to be able to stay home and hang out with my kids. I get to schedule what I want to schedule. I get to say no to things and just enjoy being home together. It’s awesome and it took us many years to get to this point. I also seem to say yes to just about everything… yes to grabbing coffee, yes to helping with watching my friends kids, yes to another meal train, yes to helping with that event next week, yes to helping with music… and I love it all. But I’m left in somewhat of the same predicament as before… When do I make time for those pesky chores?

Proverbs 31; 25-27 (ESV)
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Okay, if you have never read Proverbs 31 you should read the entire thing. It’s not very long but this chic is legit. She’s made me feel like a bum on countless occasions and I don’t know about you but I wake up often feeling idle. However, note that in verse 15 it references her maidens. Listen… from the sounds of it her and her hubby were fairly prosperous and had an entire household that worked together. She doesn’t do every single task within the household on her own, but she does manage it with wisdom. So be encouraged, it’s rough and crazy when you have littles in the house but as they get older suzyhomemakerit’s your job to train and manage your children to be a part of the team, not waiting on mom for their clean and folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers. I’ve even read lots of advice on hiring or having extra help from family with cleaning or errands during those young years so you can better invest your energies into your family emotionally and spiritually.

Now my girls are old enough to help out a ton. It’s not child abuse. They can clean their room, put away their own laundry, pick up toys and clean up after dinner… and whatever else I need help with at the moment. They’re learning to work together. To jump in and offer support and help. My soon to be 10-year-old does her own laundry and is starting to help prep dinner. It’s time I spend pouring in to them, teaching them, and showing them that work is a gift from God and a gift unto the Lord. It’s a commandment, it’s also a blessing. It’s doing the normal day to day stuff and making the mundane special because we did it together.

Colossians 3:23 “23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Genesis 2:3 “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So over time we need to switch from doing the tasks ourselves to being a manager. Yes, that means you’ll spend extra time checking their work, having them redo or go back over directions again. We’ve spent countless times dumping out their laundry baskets and putting clean clothes away that they thought they could hide in the basket instead of folding and putting away. It’s a bonus that we have natural house cleaners so my 5 year old can spray away on those bathroom counters! Part of getting ready for bed is picking up their room. Before they can go outside to play with friends their stuff needs to be picked up. It’s helping them associate that their responsibilities need to be taken care of first before they can go do the extra stuff. Yes, this all is going to take time. Be patient. Be consistent. Keep a healthy balance. We’re training future heroes, leaders, and kingdom warriors.

All the while I still have a week here where I feel like I have it all together, and then another week where I swear I’m going to bag up everything we own and throw it out to the curb! I’ve learned over time now being home that I’m very project oriented. So doing a little house work every day bothers me and it makes me feel as though I’m just continually putting out fires and never finishing anything. So here’s 3 basic ways I’ve helped the Suzy Homemaker in me put on her big girl panties and get things done and feel more accomplished and organized;

1. Schedule the work and rest. I now have a day each week where nothing is planned. Absolutely no appointments, no coffee dates, no business appointments or agendas. We hang out and run any personal errands possibly and do school. That’s it. We rest from the busyness. On other days I actually write down in my day planner what part of the day I want to make calls, take care of bills, or finish up the laundry. If I see how those tasks will affect how the day goes I’m more apt to get up and get started so that I don’t get myself behind, overwhelmed and swamped later in the day. I also incorporate my kids into as much of it as possible. Partly for my sanity because I just can’t do it all on my own anymore and partly because it’s right for them to help now as they’re getting bigger.

2. Invest in 2-3 trusty babysitters. These folks are sweet, trusted people that I know my kids enjoy but I can count on. I use them for date nights, business appointments, or during the day for a couple hours here or there so I can crank away at my To-Do and get a lot accomplished in a couple hours. Focusing my time and energy enables me to be even more efficient and effective. I’m then able to come back and give my intentional, undivided attention back to my beautiful kiddos. And let’s be honest, I’m not the only one who’s found my almost 2-year-old elbows deep playing in the toilet water because I was so focused on the budget/bills spreadsheet. No? Just me?

3. Get rid of the extra. Have you heard of that cute Japanese lady, Marie Kondo? It’s been one of the most emotionally freeing things to finally rid myself of all of the extra stuff we store and save for that infamous, “maybe someday I’ll need this” situation. I like the rule that if you haven’t used it in over a year (gone through all 4 seasons) and didn’t need it, or forgot you had it, then donate to Goodwill, give it to someone else, or trash it. Every time the kids have gotten to a point where they have a hard time keeping up their room – we do a purge. They’re learning to give away things they don’t need or use anymore. I love seeing that generous and giving spirit growing in them.

Last of all, I really do like organizing and getting things done. I just hate being interrupted or starting a million things this week and never completely finishing any of them. It comes with the territory of having a young busy family. So hang in there, Ash. Find what works best for you. Ask for help. Trade some babysitting for help around the house. Ask your friend’s teenager to donate some time for maybe free piano lessons or something. I dunno, be creative depending on how frugal you want to be. And just remember, God will give you direction, help, and wisdom. Just ask.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”